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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

The Rich Young Ruler - March 11, 2005


Sermon of the Week #200510 – March 11, 2005

A rich man came and asked Jesus, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” This is no doubt the most important question anyone could possibly ask and this man came to the right person to ask it. I have to stop right here and now and say without going further. If you have any desire about life after this world go to the right source. The source is Jesus. The Apostle John said at the end of his account of the life of Jesus, “These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing ye might have life in His name.” The New Testament is the last will and Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the only source of salvation. He Himself said, “No one cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Not only that but Peter said, “There is therefore now none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Some would ask, “But don’t you think other religions offer the same promise?” It does not make any difference what we think. Jesus said, "All authority hath been given unto me."

Now look at the question again. What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life? It was reported one time that the most frequently asked question each day is; “What time is it?” The scripture gives the best answer to that question. It is time to seek the Lord.  Now this man asked, "What shall I do? "He evidently believed that you had to do something to be saved and that being rich was not the answer.

He was rich. Money can buy a bed, but it cannot buy sleep. Money can buy medicine, but it cannot buy health. Money can buy a house, but it cannot buy a home. Money can buy food, but it cannot buy an appetite. So he said, "What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?"

What good thing shall I do? Many will tell you there is nothing to do. Peter told the penitent believers on the day of Pentecost to save yourselves from this crooked generation. There is definitely something you have to do.

What good thing must I do? He had the idea that if he were good enough he would inherit eternal life. Tell me about that one good thing and I will do it. There is a catch to that. The Scripture teaches that no man is good even at his best. Paul describes the human rascal in Romans when he says: “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; they have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulcher; With their tongue they have used deceit: The poison of the asp is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the ways of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 And then to cap it off Paul says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." What good thing shall I do? It is not enough to say, be good and you will go to heaven. What little good you are and can do is not good enough. Some other remedy is needed.

Now Matthew tells us this man was rich, Mark says he was young and Luke says he was a ruler. Think of it, rich, young and a religious leader who as it will turn out had morals that cannot be questioned.   Most would say today that such a man, as this does not lack any thing. He is a shoo in for heaven just as he is. And besides all that we are told that the Lord loved him. Many say that since God loves us He would never damn anyone to hell. Here is a man of whom it actually says Jesus loved him and He is gong to tell him that he lacks one thing that will keep him out of heaven.

Now before the Lord answered this question, He had to set this young man straight on something. He had called Jesus good Master. Did he know what he was saying when he called Jesus good Master? Jesus reminded him that there is no one who is good but God. Are you calling Me God? Then there is another dimension to that term good. Since Jesus was made in the likeness of men and took upon Himself the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men, found in fashion as a man; what does calling Him good Master say for His life style in the flesh? Paul says, “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” So to call Jesus good Master is to recognize Him as living a perfect life in the flesh and also as the second member of the Godhead; Co‑Creator of the universe. He is good Master both from the standpoint of His God-hood and from the standpoint of His man-hood—Good Master.

Now a word about the rich man himself. There came one running and kneeling before him, and asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" This man who came to Jesus came on the run. Run is not usually the verb that we use to describe religious action on the part of the individual. Crawl seems to fit the action of serving the Lord in most cases. Running to Jesus is an unusual spiritual exercise. He was zealous. Not only this, but he was reverent in his approach to the Master. He ran and then kneeled before Him. Kneeling will always keep you good standing in the sight of God. Then there is something else about him, Luke tells us, that this rich man was a ruler. He was a religious leader.

Now think about that. He was religious, devout, zealous, a faithful worshipper and yet something is missing. He wants to know what he must do to have eternal life. Do you know anyone like that? A person who is in services every Sunday, but something is missing. He reminds me of the church member who fell asleep in a haystack and the haystack caught on fire. This church member awakened and said, “I always did think I was going to hell.”

What must I do to inherit eternal life? He knew he needed to do something. He was on the right track. No one can be saved until he realizes he is lost. One man wrote one time and said he got lost listening to this program while driving and drove forty miles out of the way. Actually that is what we are trying to do. We want everyone who listens to this broadcast to realize they are lost as they travel the broad way that leadeth to destruction where there are many that enter in thereby and turn off on the narrow road that leads to life.

The answer of Jesus was very simple.  According to Mark, Jesus told him, "Thou knowest the commandments." Jesus knew this man was not ignorant. The Lord says you already know my word. You know the commands. The Rich Young Ruler is like a lot of people. They cannot plead ignorance. They know the demands of the word of God. To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin.

The rich young ruler wanted to know what one thing he needed to do. “Jesus, tell me that one thing and I will do it.” Jesus told him to do six things. Honor thy father and thy mother, Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.

Some today may ask the same question: What one thing shall I do to inherit eternal life? They are surprised to find out that it is not just one thing, but six things are involved in the salvation process. Faith comes by hearing, then believing, repentance, confession, immersion for the remission of sins, then faithfulness unto death. Do all six things if thou wouldst enter into life.

Some still persist what one thing shall I do? Shall I believe and leave off the repentance? Shall I repent and leave off the baptism? Shall I believer and repent and leave off the baptism. Shall I be baptized and leave off the repentance? What one thing shall I do to be saved?

Jesus said sell all you have. In one sense today many have gone and sold all they have. They have sold the people on the idea that the church is a playground and not a battleground. No longer is the advice of Paul heard; “Put on the whole armor of God,” but put on your picnic clothes for services on Sunday, and don't dare dress that way for business on Monday. Many have been sold on the idea that if the loaf and the cup won't draw the attendance of the faithful: coffee, donuts, and hot chocolate will. Some sell all even to the extent of selling out the Lord. What good thing and what one thing shall I do?

Jesus told him to go and sell that which he had and give to the poor and come follow Me. Jesus did not tell everyone who came to Him to give up everything. Zacchaeus said, "Lord, I will give you fifty per cent, the half of my goods I give to the poor. Lord, I will give half of all I have.” Jesus said, “Sounds like a good deal; I’ll take it.” The reason the Lord told this rich man to give everything was because this rich man did not have any money, the money he thought he had, had him and spiritual surgery was needed to save his life. With him it was all or nothing at all. No matter who you are salvation is going to cost you something. What is there in your life that stands like a stonewall, that you are not willing to give up that will keep you out of Heaven? Remember Jesus told the Apostles that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. It seems that it is impossible for a rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven as far as men are concerned, but with God all things are possible. The only way for a rich man or any man can go to Heaven is by an act of God. That act of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

But even an act of God could not move this man to obey, he went away sorrowful. We refer to an earthquake as an act of God and there is a lot of power in an earthquake. An earthquake had enough power to postpone a World Series ball game for one day in California. Who would ever dream that an earthquake had that much power in America? I would have been surprised if there was enough power in an earthquake to postpone a little league game. But an earthquake was not enough power to loosen the purse strings of the kind of tightwad Jesus was talking about. They say a tornado is an act of God. The tornado has great power. Back in the seventies a tornado wiped out much of Xenia, Ohio. That was great power, but it would not be enough power to loosen the purse strings of the kind of tightwad Jesus was talking about. They say that a hurricane is an act of God and it has great power. But that power is not enough to loosen the purse strings of the kind of tightwad Jesus was talking about. The only act of God that can loosen the purse strings of the filthy rich and the filthy middle class and the filthy poor class is the power, the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit. The scripture speaks of the principle of holding back the tithe from the Lord's work as robbing God. If some folk had robbed a bank of as much money as they have robbed from God, their picture would be on the wall of every post office in the United States and some of them would be on the list of the ten most wanted of the FBI.  It was stated on one news report that the per capita giving of all denominations was two per cent. Evidently most Church members think the Lord and His Church isn’t worth much. Heaven is a real nice place but it can’t be all that great. The decision of the rich young ruler is very popular. I’ll take the world and you can have heaven. Actually if you read the story of the rich young ruler your ticket to heaven will cost everything you’ve got. So give it all you’ve got, time, talent, and treasure.

Perhaps it is warning enough to point out that there is one sin that most members of the church never confess. We ask God’s forgiveness for many things, but did you ever fall upon your knees and beg God to forgive you for being stingy in your giving to the Lord’s work?  The reason you haven’t is because you always say; “Well I am giving all I can afford.” The reason it is difficult for a rich man to go to heaven and millions of us are rich in varying degrees in America, is in the words of Jesus when He said, “The care of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things entering in choke the choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Many a person is like the man with the full barns. Soul thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease eat drink and be merry. But God said unto him, "Thou fool this night is thy soul required of thee." One preacher friend of mine now gone on to glory said we all have our little red barns. How much are you piling up in your little red barn? How many of you would like to go into eternity today with the Lord’s money in your pocket? "Remeber," Jesus said, "where thy treasure is there will thy heart be also." Mark tells us that the young man went away sorrowful because he was one that had great possessions. He wanted to go to heaven, but he did not want to go badly enough. Many like the rich young ruler want to go to heaven, but how much do you want to go? The bottom line of the young man’s decision was, “I would rather go to hell than part with my present life style.” I would rather go to hell than give up drugs. I would rather go to hell than give up pornography. I would rather go to hell than to give up my booze.

 A noted and highly learned professor was asked one time what is your ambition. He said, "My ambition is to go to heaven." In this sports conscious world many can understand the statement that was attributed to a famous baseball player of bygone years when he was asked by the reporters, "What is your ambition?"  They thought he would say to steal so many bases or have a certain batting average and he said, “My ambition is to go to heaven.” When the reporters chided him and said, “What do you mean go to heaven?” He said, "Gentlemen if there is no heaven life is not worth living." The watchword of Paul in Colossians is, "Set your affections on things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God and not on the things of the earth.  And when Christ who is our life shall be manifested then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory.”

Now when Jesus said unto his disciples, "Verily I say unto you, a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." Peter said, “Lo we have left all and followed Thee, what then shall we have?” “Lord, What's in it for us?”  That is the question we all might ask. When you think of following Jesus, “What's in it for us?” One noted singer of gospel music defected from the gospel to sing popular music.  An interviewer asked him on television why he switched and he said, "The Lord did not pay too good." That may be true, sometimes the Lord may not pay too well, but you can’t beat the retirement.

Now this concluding thought on the rich young ruler. He asked a very personal question. It is as personal as you can get. The Devil tries to get people to focus on other questions. One man told me he would become a Christian if I would tell him who was Cain’s wife. That man died years later without Christ as far as I know because his mind was focused on Cain’s wife and not on the cross. Another man lost his focus when he said he would become a Christian if I would identify the mark of the beast. The Devil will focus the attention of some on the religion of their dead parents and ask what happened to them since their believing in Christ and repentance was not followed by immersion. Their attention is riveted on the tombstones of their parents and they lose sight of their own salvation. No other question matters from the standpoint of eternity. Don’t lose your focus on the most important personal question you can ask; “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”